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On a noise high
- Pollution monitors fail to rein in rogue pandals: immersion mess in coal town, mikes deafen capital

The decibel demon once again romped around Ranchi this Durga Puja despite the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) prescribing area-wise loudspeaker limits and the district administration promising to enforce them.

Now, with a cracker of a Diwali round the corner, noise pollution threatens to touch a new high in the capital.

Pollution control board analyst R.N. Kashyap conceded that 19 pockets in Ranchi were put to a serious noise test on Ashtami (October 22) and Navami (October 23) from 11am till 6pm, and the results were far from satisfactory. Though areas like Kantatoli, Birsa Chowk and Hatia showed a dip in their decibel counts compared to 2011, the figures still mocked the permissible limits.

Kashyap said a mix of residential, commercial, industrial and highly sensitive areas were chosen for the survey. These included Tupudana, Hatia market, Project Building area, Birsa Chowk, Jharkhand High Court area, Sujata Chowk, GEL Church area, Kantatoli Chowk, Lalpur Chowk, Albert Ekka Chowk, Kutchery Chowk, RIMS area, governor house area, CMPDI, Ratu Road, Argora, Ashok Nagar, Mecon Colony and Dhurwa Sector 3.

“For residential areas, the noise limit fixed is 55dB, for commercial pockets it is 65dB and industrial areas have a cap of 75dB. In high-sensitive areas such as hospitals and courts, noise is limited to 50dB. But, loudspeakers blared louder than they should, even if with devotional songs and hymns. Traffic congestion and honking added to the discomfort,” said a senior JSPCB official.

The high-sensitive areas near RIMS and high court recorded 59.9dB and 68dB, respectively, against the cap of 50dB. The noise meter sprinted in commercial areas too. CMPDI recorded 82.9dB, Kantatoli Chowk 81.2dB, Hatia market 82.3dB, Project Building 69.5dB, Birsa Chowk 82.5dB, Sujata Chowk 77.9dB, GEL Church 79.3dB, Lalpur 79.1dB, Kutchery 82.5dB, governor house area 78.9dB, Argora 82dB and Ratu Road 81.3dB.

The consolation: compared to last year CMPDI, Kantatoli, Hatia, Birsa Chowk and Kutchery Chowk registered lower noise levels.

Interestingly, the otherwise busy Albert Ekka Chowk remained calm this time at just 50.9dB against the permissible limit of 65dB, while Tupudana too remained well within the industrial area noise cap of 75dB.

Residential areas like Ashok Nagar and Mecon Colony crossed the limit of 55dB, recording 66.3dB and 57.9dB, respectively, but Dhurwa Sector 3 won kudos with 53.4dB.

“Albert Ekka Chowk hosted only one pandal this time, which was a boon. Though the noise level has dipped at a few places compared to last year, violation has been rampant,” a JSPCB official admitted.

Kashyap maintained that it was the district administration’s job to implement the guidelines. “We can only conduct tests and make recommendations. We have also conducted a water survey during Puja and the report is awaited,” he said. He added that for Diwali, the noise limit was 125dB. “We hope the administration will enforce the rule in full spirit this time.”

Ranchi SDO Amit Kumar contended that the main problem in curbing noise pollution was that neither the district administration nor the Puja organisers know how to measure the decibel level in real-time basis. “So, we depend on complaints to act,” he said.

Should spot fines be imposed for loudspeaker menace?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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